Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Chinese steeped chicken

My cold is getting the better of me so I’ve bunked off work a bit early to come home and boil that chicken. I’ve decided that what I need are some good aromatics such as ginger, lemon grass and chilli to clear my sinuses.

I popped into Tai Loc, the Vietnamese grocer a few doors down from our studio on Choumert Road and found an ingredient I’ve only ever seen pickled or in jars before – fresh lotus root. ‘Peel it, slice it and boil it with a chicken for a few hours to make good soup’, the woman said. I love an experiment!

This soup is based on a classic Chinese technique shown to me by my friend Ben and makes the chicken silky and tender. Of course it can be made without the lotus root - I don't think it's going to add much flavour. Serve with plain boiled rice or noodles.

Serves 4
1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1 lotus root (optional) about 150g, peeled and thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
5cm piece root ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
2 lemon grass stalks, flattened a little with a rolling pin
2 red chillies, thinly sliced if fresh, crumbled if dried
1 star anise
sea salt
bundle of choi sum or pak choi
300g can straw mushrooms, drained and halved or 250g sliced fresh shiitake
soy sauce and vinegar, to taste
4 spring onions, thinly sliced
handful of holy basil or coriander leaves

1 Skin the chicken and place the pieces in a large pan. Add the lotus root, garlic, ginger, lemon grass, chillies, star anise and a little salt. Just cover with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Cover with a lid, turn off the heat and leave to cool completely – the chicken will finishing cooking as it gently cools down, not sure yet that the lotus root will be tender though. Skim the surface to make sure the broth stays clear.

2 To serve, bring back to a gentle simmer and add the greens and mushrooms and cook for 3 – 4 minutes. Divide the chicken pieces and greens between four bowls. Season the broth with soy sauce and vinegar then ladle, along with all the bits into the bowls. Scatter with spring onions and basil and serve.


myriam said...

hi love. i hope the oven is working again? what a shame. so much money for just ONE oven?... that would buy you loads of shoes and bags and all that wonderful stuff. - just to let you know: homemade mascarpone is ready. and creamy. and just delicious! hope cold is better?

Silvana said...

Hi Myriam. Yes, oven is fixed! Glad your mascarpone worked. I'm going to have a look at your blog for the recipe right now.

Nunhead Mum of One said...

Hello! Are you the same Silvana that I saw on an episode of The Best the other day? Just been reading Dulwich Mum's blog and happened upon your comment. I loved that thing you did with the asparagus!

Silvana said...

Hi Nunhead mum! Yes, it's me, still cooking! I filmed the Best before I took time out to have my son. I do love asparagus not long to wait til May before we get the good English ones back in season.

dulwichmum said...

Hi Sylvana,

My God your food sounds wonderful. I am ravenous now, and sitting here in work having had no breakfast - I could abandon my desk and go in search of lotus root - I kid you not!

Silvana said...

No, don't bother! The lotus root didn't add much to be honest - just a bit of crunch, adding half a bag of beansprouts at the end would have done the same job. Still, it was worth trying and the soup was yum.

Martha said...

Hi, I saw the episode where Ben made the steeped chicken the other day on BBC Food and have been trawling the web for the recipe! I'm so glad I found it, thanks for putting it up. We've had the flu and this sounded like just the thing to bring our family back around. BBC Food's website is rubbish, you practically have to sit with pen and paper when you watch if you want to replicate anything.

Silvana said...

Hi Martha!

My version is nowhere as delicious as Ben's but it's quite a bit easier. Ben's recipe is in the BBC book The Best which is old now so should be cheap on Amaazon. Otherwise, have a flick through Ben's website www.benodonoghue.com